Women in Hindi Cinema and Their Impact on College Students With Reference to Eight Women Oriented Films in 2014

(A study among university students of Lucknow)

Heena Kausar*
Dr Gopal Singh**

Abstract

The study examines the “Portrayal of women in Hindi cinema and its effect on college going girl students with special reference to eight women oriented films released during the year 2014”. It studies the effect, attitude and keenness of college going women students towards women oriented movies. It also analyzes the changing role of actresses in eight women oriented Hindi films released in the year 2014, and lastly it analyses whether women oriented Hindi films are commercially successful or not.

A total of 200 college going women were questioned; all of them undergraduates and/or postgraduate college students. This was done to derive a wider perspective on college going students towards women oriented movies. Another angle of this study has been content analysis and it is done by watching and analyzing the eight selected movies and also by analyzing the online reviews of entertainment news which is used to describe the changing role of actresses in eight women oriented Hindi films released in 2014. Through online entertainment news, data is collected about the total budget of each movie and the box office earning of each movie and analyzed to see whether the women oriented Hindi films are commercially successful at the box office or not.

The findings of the study reveal a lot that is new regarding the attitude of college going women students like, how they are not seen as fighting for their rights in the movie but how they are playing the roles previously played only by males; their roles as cops, gangsters, fighter, sports persons, detectives and many more. It shows the parity of women with men and that they can now do anything that men can do. The women oriented movies are commercially successful on box office and are praised and liked by the audiences.

Introduction

On July 7, 1896 the Lumiere Brothers of France organized a show of their short films. For the first time India was exposed to motion pictures when the Lumiere Brothers’ six soundless short films were shown at Watson Hotel of Bombay. One of the pioneers of the silent feature film in India was Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (alias Dadasaheb Phalke), a Bombay printer, photographer, painter and magician. He broke a new ground in 1913 with India’s first full length silent film Rajah Harischandra. Earlier in 1899 he had produced his first film The Wrestlers which was shot on a wrestling match at Hanging Gardens in Bombay. The Melody of Love (1929)was the first talkie to be screened in India. The credit of producing the first Indian talkie AlamAra, however goes to ArdeshirIrani. This film was released on March 14, 1931 in Bombay’s Majestic theatre. Devika Rani made her debut in this film. The credit for producing the first colour movie in India also goes to Sir ArdeshirIrani, who made Kisan Kanya (Peasant Girl) in (1937). Fearless Nadia in films like Hunterwali (1935) and Miss Frontier Mail (1936) introduced a woman the like of which Indian cinema had not seen.

There are many more women centric movies like Mother India, Mirch Masala, Aandhi, Mandi, Sardari Begum, Arth, Bhumika, Aandhi, Godmother, Damini, Sangharsh, Fire, Bandit Queen, Khoon Bhari Maang, Silsilay, Black, Dor, Water, Chandni Bar, Lajja, Astitva, Roja, Chameli, Chak De India, Fashion, Heroine, 7 KhoonMaaf, Dirty Picture, No One Killed Jessica, That Girl In Yellow Boots, Kahaani, English-Vinglish which have different stories and themes, partially or fully based on women related issues wherein  they are the main characters opposite the male lead.

Objectives

  • To find out the effect of women oriented movies on college going women.
  • To find out the attitude of women students towards women oriented movies.
  • To ascertain how much keen are women on watching women oriented Hindi films.
  • To analyze the changing role of actors in women oriented Hindi films released in 2014.
  • To analyze whether or not the women oriented Hindi films are commercially successful.

Methodology

Survey and content analysis methods were used with quantitative study approach.

Two hundred samples from two universities of Lucknow city of Uttar Pradesh i.e., Integral University (Private and State University) and Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (Government and Central University) were selected through Non Probability Sampling for the study. One hundred college going women students aged between 17 and 25 were selected through Purposive Sampling technique from each of the two universities. All the data are presented in percentage and through graphs and tables.

The other aspect of this study is content analysis done by watching the eight selected movies and also by analyzing the online reviews of the eight selected movies to describe the changed roles of women characters in eight women oriented Hindi films released in the year 2014.

Data presentation and interpretation

Graph- 1

Graph-2

Liking of the students for women oriented Hindi films

Graph-3

Graph-4

 Graph-5

Are women oriented Hindi films increasing the level of positivity

Graph-6

Students becoming extroverts after watching films

35 percent students find that they become extroverts after watching women oriented films. Another 32.5 percent also confess that they somehow become extroverts due to films they watch and17.5 percent students don’t agree that they become extroverts. The rest of the 15 percent students can’t say anything.

Graph-7

Development of personality among students due to watching women oriented films

 Graph-8

Are women oriented Hindi films changing the mindsets of society toward women

Graph-9

Preference of students for the selected films

Graph-10

Students’ attitude towards gossiping about women oriented films and the role played by the actresses with their friends

Graph-11

Do women actresses have the potential to replace the male lead characters and become the lead character of the movie

To find out the fourth objective of research i.e. ‘analyse the changing role of actresses in eight women oriented Hindi films released in year 2014’, the findings are as follows:

Revolver Rani- The role played by Kangna Ranaut (Alka Singh) in Revolver Rani is quite a break from the stereotype. It completely upturns the gender role. Kangna is cast in the role of a dacoit or a female gangster of the Chambal valley, mostly dominated by men, where she fearlessly lives by the gun or die by the gun.

Mardaani- The role played by Rani Mukherjee (Shivani Shivagirao) in Mardaani was as a cop in the crime branch. It also breaks the stereotype because the cops’ job is generally considered fit only for males because of physical and mental strain it involves and the endurance to work on a 24×7 schedule. But with globalization came changes in the work pattern and women also started working in the police service.

Queen- A Delhi girl role played by Kangna Ranaut (Rani Mehra) from traditional and conservative family who is ditched by her fiancé just before her marriage. Shocked by this, she decides to set out on the planned honeymoon alone. No matter how bad things are for a woman, she can always emerge victorious from the turmoil. She might do it in her own specific way and also do it in her own demanding terms, but she has the full capacity to stand and fight the world.

Gulaabi Gang- A fearless woman gang of Madhuri Dixit (Rajjo) fights for social injustice, creating a sanctuary (Asharam) for abused women and girls battling a crooked politician. The world is not just made up of super-heroes; there is place for super-heroines too.  Nishta Jain’s ‘Gulabi Gang’ is a true blue documentary tracing the life of Sampat Pal Devi and her activist movement against women’s oppression in Uttar Pradesh.

Mary Kom- Priyanka Chopra (Mary Kom) plays the role of Mary Kom in the eponymous movie on the life of the international woman boxer from India. Hers is an inspiring story of how she went through several hardships before accomplishing her dream and ultimate goal. The film juxtaposes several roles of an uncompromising woman who wants to break free from the chains of patriarchy.  Mary Kom happily remains a woman, a mother, a daughter, and a loving wife in spite of taking up something essentially “masculine”.

Lakshmi- The role of a 14-year old is played by Monali Thakur (Lakshmi) in the movie Lakshmi who was forced into a brothel. The film is based on a true story of the first case of conviction for child prostitution in Andhra Pradesh. It is the story of a powerful young girl who was able to get justice for herself. Surging interest in women’s rights and violence against women, Lakshmi is a hero to lakhs of distraught women across the country.

Bobby Jassos- The role played by Vidya Balan (Bilqis Ahmed aka Bobby) is that of a detective which work in a patriarchal society is done only by a male. It raises important questions about gender equality, financial independence of women, and parental obsession with marriage.

DedhIshqia- It is a sequel to Ishqiya. But DedhIshqiya, despite all that cleverness in the title, is just as much a love story. A woman film in its own right, it depicts an excellent friendship between Madhuri Dixit (Begum Para) and her companion Huma Qureshi (Muniya) while touching upon issues of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community.

Table representation of movies and the role played by actresses

Film Name Actress Name Role in Movie
Revolver Rani Kangna Ranaut Female Gangster/ Dacoit
Mardaani Rani Mukherjee Female cop in crime branch
Mary Kom Priyanka Chopra international woman boxer
Bobby Jassos Vidya Balan Female detective
Queen Kangna Ranaut Middle class woman
Lakshmi Monali Thakur Village girl child
Gulaabi Gang Madhuri Dixit Social Women activist
DedhIshqia Madhuri Dixit Cunning women

 

Records for highest-grossing films in India (by net figures, i.e. after tax reduction),highest revenue earned on opening days and opening weeks and other specific details: the box office figures in India are not tracked officially and results are estimated by sources.

It is third finding of the dissertation in which it covers the fifth objective i.e. ‘analyze whether the women oriented Hindi films are commercially successful’. The data given below is from (www.bollywoodhungama.com).

Lifetime earning of all the eight women oriented movies released during the year 2014

Conclusion

Among the several genres of cinema that exist today in the Bollywood film industry is the genre of women centric films. The purpose of a women centric film is not only entertainment or to earn money but to inspire us to be brave, clever, insightful, experimental, loyal, determined and other virtues which make us positive minded. These movies are mirrors of society inspired by our daily lives, partially or fully. These are reflections of society, both present and past. They create awareness, build civic sense, and ensure public morality and their propagation. 

Women oriented films are made, focusing on the lives of women as well as showing and depicting without any regret or prejudice, the parity of women with the men disseminating the message: now women can do anything what men can do.  

Following are the conclusions of this study:

Hypothesis: The effect of women oriented movies on college going women students is positive.

Conclusion: The hypothesis is proved right to some extent. The effect of women oriented movies on women students is positive in all aspects as it is found that it increases their level of positivity. 57.5 percent say ‘yes’ and 27.5 percent say ‘somehow’. Likewise, on becoming extrovert due to watching women oriented films, 35 percent and 32.5 percent students respectively says ‘yes’ and ‘somehow’. About developing the personality of college going women, 42.5 percent and 32.5 percent say ‘at some extent’ and ‘yes’ respectively. Asked whether women oriented Hindi films are changing the mindsets of society towards women, 52 percent replied in the affirmative.

Hypothesis: Attitude of the women toward women oriented movies is positive.

Conclusion: This hypothesis is proved correct in many cases. On being asked how often do they see the films, 37 percent students see films 2-5 times in a month and 35 percent students see films once in a month. Similarly, in case of liking towards women oriented movies 75 percent students says ‘yes’ as they show interest in watching women oriented films. When asked whether they like female lead character in women oriented films, 46 percent students like the independent women role. Similarly, when asked if women oriented movies are successful in giving recognition to women in society, 65 percent say ‘yes’ and 25 percent say ‘somehow’. To the question whether they think that women oriented Hindi films are good for women college students, 77.5 percent students expressed agreement.

Hypothesis: The keenness of women in watching women oriented Hindi films is a negative trait.

Conclusion: This hypothesis is wrong to some extent. 58 percent women watched the movie Mary Kom, 56 percent watched Mardaani, 50 percent watched Queen and 20, 14.5, 13.5,13 and 6 percent watched Gulaab Gang, Revolver Rani, Bobby Jasoos, DedhIshqiyaand Lakshmi respectively. As to whether students gossip with their friends about women oriented films or the role played by the actresses, 70 percent said ‘yes’, as they gossip both before and after watching films. When asked if women can replace the male to become the lead character of a movie, 70 percent women were affirmative as they see this change in films.

Hypothesis: The changed roles of actresses in eight women oriented Hindi films.

Conclusion: The hypothesis has proved right to some extent because through analysis it was found that there were eight different roles in the eight different women oriented movies.

Hypothesis: Women oriented Hindi films are commercially successful.

Conclusion: This hypothesis is proved correct because when we compare the total budget of each and every movie from its total lifetime collection, then each movie is in profit except the movie Lakshmi which has a total budget of about Rs five Cr. but its box office collection was only Rs0.18 Cr. It is so because this movie was not made for commercial purpose. It has its own social message for women in the brothel. Other movies like Mardaani whose total budget was Rs14 Cr. and earned Rs76.71 Cr., Bobby Jasoos, total budget Rs 18 Cr.collectionRs32.06Cr.s whereas Queen’s total budget was Rs12.5 Cr. but it collected the highest among all the eight movies i.e. Rs91.6 Cr.. The MaryKom budget was estimated to be Rs15-18 Cr. and it collected Rs141.5 Cr., Revolver Rani’s estimated total budget was Rs24 cr. and it collected Rs26.88 Cr., Gulaabi Gang total budget was Rs12 Cr. and it collected Rs38.7 Cr.. And last but not the least DedhIshqiya estimated budget was Rs16-17 Cr. and it earned Rs 62.14 Cr. at the box office. 

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